Dublin Guide. Leisure Guides.

 

A lovable jumble of pubs and poetry, storytellers and street art, big dreams and burnished history, Dublin remains a city very much of its own making. Its spirit, despite the financial woes of recent years, isn’t the type to be sapped. 

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Getting around


The Liffey River flows straight through the heart of Dublin, running west to east, making on-foot orientation of the city centre straightforward. The majority of the big-name sights and attractions – as well as a fair few nightspots – tend to be clustered reasonably close to the river. Various companies offer boat, bus and walking tours of the centre. 
 
Dublin also has a hugely popular public bike rental scheme, similar to London, Paris and elsewhere. Since being launched in 2009, Dublinbikes has become one of the most successful initiatives of its kind in the world. There are 44 bike stations around town. 
 
For those heading out of the centre, there’s a comprehensive bus network run by Dublin Bus – services usually stop at 11.30pm although there are night buses at weekends – as well as a tram system, with two lines serving more than 50 stops in the south and west of the city. It’s known as Luas, the Irish word for speed. Taxis are plentiful throughout Dublin. 
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Getting here

Getting here could not be any easier. We offer many frequent flights from London City Airport and plenty hotel packages. To book flights and hotels please click here.

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Hotels


Accommodation prices in Dublin were roundly lowered by the economic slump, meaning it’s still possible to get a quality room for a less-than-eye-watering price. There’s something to suit all styles – the city’s lavish grande dame hotels are neatly complemented by some slinky modern properties, and there’s a strong array of mid-range and budget properties too. 
 
There haven’t been too many openings in recent years, but keep an eye out for The Marker (Grand Canal Square), a design hotel arriving in April 2013 to considerable fanfare. Still fresh on the scene, meanwhile, The Gibson Hotel (Point Village) is located right next to the O2 Arena in one of Dublin’s most modern quarters. Elsewhere, the classic luxury of The Merrion (Upper Merrion Street) continues to impress, with the property occupying a place on Condé Nast Traveler’s Gold List for 2013. And rugby fans should take note of the newly renamed Clyde Court Hotel (Lansdowne Road) – close to the Aviva Stadium. 
 
To book a hotel click here
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Nightlife


Few visitors arrive in Dublin with early nights in mind. A surprisingly large number, however, restrict their evenings out to the stag-centric, Guinness-soaked warren that is Temple Bar. There are some enjoyable pubs here – such as the mahogany-heavy Palace Bar (21 Fleet Street) – but it pays to look further afield. Many of the more traditional pubs retain that warm, lived-in feel of Irish legend. Try O’Donoghue’s Bar (15 Merrion Row), The Stag’s Head (1 Dame Court), or for some of the best Irish music sessions in town, The Cobblestone (77 King Street North). 
 
Modern, trendier bars are plentiful too – 2012 saw the opening of the enjoyably eccentric 37 Dawson Street (address as per name), which has a dedicated whiskey bar, while the likes of Market Bar (16a Fade Street), No 4 Dame Lane (4 Dame Lane) and the First Floor Bar at Harvey Nichols (Sandyford Road) continue to draw style-seekers. Lastly, brand new on the nightclub scene is the tasteful Everleigh Garden (33 Harcourt Street), which (bravely, you might say) sells itself as ‘70% Outdoor, 30% Indoor’. 
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Restaurants


The economic downturn has hardly been rapturous news for the city’s leading band of restaurateurs, but there’s still no escaping the fact that Dublin’s food scene is unrecognisable from the tepid prospect of decades gone by. Artisan produce, gourmet cooking and creative fusion recipes have helped elevate the city to somewhere with some genuinely excellent dining options. If you go to the right places, you can eat incredibly well here. 
 
There’s plenty of session-friendly fare in and around Temple Bar, but if you can organise a booking at the newly Michelin-starred Locks Brasserie (1 Windsor Terrace) or the ever-inventive Chapter One (18-19 Parnell Square), you won’t regret it. To really splurge, the Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud (21 Upper Merrion Street) is roundly considered the city’s best fine dining option. Elsewhere, Whitefriar Grill (16 Aungier Street) is a newly opened city-centre eatery that’s already become a seriously popular spot for weekend brunches.   
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Shopping


Central Dublin isn’t short on the kind of souvenir shops where you’re more likely to leave with a novelty leprechaun hat than anything of true cultural value, but there are plenty of options for those in search of something more traditional. Local specialities like crystals and knitwear are easily sourced in the smarter gift shops, as are one-off pieces of art, jewellery and homeware. The Cow’s Lane Designer Mart (Saturdays 10am-5pm in the Temple Bar area) is a solid bet for unique, arty finds. 
  
South of the river, Grafton Street and the lanes around it represent the most upmarket shopping drag. Brown Thomas (88-95 Grafton Street) is a renowned department store heavily stocked with designer brands. The nearby James Fox Cigar & Whiskey Store (119 Grafton Street) has been selling high-class products since 1881, while the new kid on the block is women’s fashion specialist ONLY (43 Grafton Street), unveiled in early 2013. There’s also plenty of retail activity north of the Liffey, around Henry and O’Connell Streets.
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Top 10 sights

Top 5 sights for first-timers

Trinity College

A vision of hushed squares, manicured lawns and handsome Georgian architecture, Trinity stands as the most prestigious university in the country. There’s a wealth of historical detail to take in, although its most famous feature remains the Book of Kells, a dazzling 1,200-year-old manuscript displayed in the Old Library.

College Green
www.tcd.ie 

O’Connell Street

Dublin’s main thoroughfare stretches north from the Liffey River. It’s lost much of its 18th-century elegance over the decades, but still offers a fascinating through-the-ages insight into Dublin’s recent history. Examples? Contrast the General Post Office, still inextricably linked with the Easter Rising of 1916, with the defiantly modern Spire of Dublin monument.

North of O’Connell Bridge 

Guinness Storehouse

The most visited attraction in Dublin bar none. Situated in the heart of the still-working St James’s Gate Brewery, the Storehouse is a multimedia museum dedicated to Ireland’s most iconic drink. Learn about its origins, ingredients and brewing processes, then nurse a pint in the panoramic Gravity Bar.

St James’s Gate
www.guinness-storehouse.com 

St Stephen’s Green

An elegant public park surrounded by mid-18th-century buildings, St Stephen’s Green attracts strolling locals from sunrise to sunset. It was once a site for public whippings and hangings – things are far more genteel now. Statues including Oscar Wilde and James Joyce add to the air of reserve. 

St Stephen’s Green

Kilmainham Jail

Closed as a jail since 1924, Kilmainham figured heavily in Ireland’s long struggle for independence. Leaders of uprisings were routinely detained here, meaning a guided tour of the building today gives a vivid insight into the part-heroic, part-tragic upheavals of the period from the late 1700s onwards.

Inchicore Road, Kilmainham
www.heritageireland.ie/en/Dublin/KilmainhamGaol

Top 5 sights for old hands

Newgrange

Sitting some 50 kilometres outside of town but easily visited on a daytrip, Newgrange is a Stone Age passage tomb and one of the most remarkable prehistoric sites in Western Europe. It’s been here for well over 5,000 years, although that doesn’t stop its exact purpose still being the subject of swirling speculation.  

County Meath
www.newgrange.com

Marsh’s Library

Located a hymnbook’s throw from St Patrick’s Cathedral, Marsh’s Library was founded in 1701, making it the oldest public library in Ireland. You won’t find too many tourists browsing its carved oak bookcases, which helps the rarefied, old-world atmosphere feel all the more special.

St Patrick’s Close
www.marshlibrary.ie 

Croke Park Stadium Tour

There’s no more impressive way of steeping yourself in Dublin’s proud sporting heritage than through a tour of the 82,300-capacity Croke Park – known colloquially as ‘Croker’ – where Gaelic events have been taking place since the 1880s. The tour incorporates a newly refurbished museum.

St Joseph’s Avenue, Croke Park
www.crokepark.ie

Jeanie Johnston

A truly evocative way of learning more about the trans-Atlantic journeys made by so many Irish men and women during the famine years, the Jeanie Johnston is a working replica of a 19th-century ship. It bills itself as a ‘Famine Museum’, and represents one of Dublin’s most poignant attractions.

Custom House Quay
www.jeaniejohnston.ie

Hugh Lane Gallery

A gem of an art gallery. Showcasing a top-notch collection of Irish and international modern and contemporary art, Dublin’s Hugh Lane Gallery also benefits from being located in an 18th-century townhouse. It features the actual studio of Francis Bacon, relocated piece by piece from London.

Charlemont House, Parnell Square North
www.hughlane.ie

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Top 5 activities


Cycling

 
Two-wheeled travel can be a handy way not only to experience central Dublin but to get a feel for outlying areas, particularly along the bayside. Today there are some 120 kilometres of on-road cycle track in the city. 
 
Rafting

Head inland to County Dublin for an alternative Liffey experience. The river twists, turns and drops its way through green countryside before it reaches the city proper, resulting in some good white-water-rafting options. 
 
Traditional sports

Get a hands-on introduction to hurling, handball and Gaelic football with the much-acclaimed Experience Gaelic Games, learning about the sports’ 3,000 years of history at the same time. 
 
Walking

Themed group walks are everywhere you look in the centre of town, usually focused on literary connections, political flashpoints or live music. Some visitors love them, some prefer unguided exploration – regardless, Dublin’s a great city to walk through. 
 
Whiskey tasting

Take a tour of the atmospheric Old Jameson Distillery – complete with tasting session of local and international whiskies – to learn what sets Irish whiskey apart from scotch and bourbon. It’s located a couple of blocks north of the Liffey. 
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Top 5 events


St Patrick’s Day

These days incorporated into a festival lasting four days, St Paddy’s Day in Dublin is a blur of music, parades and well-lubricated merrymaking. If you’ve ever wondered about the exact nature of Ireland’s fabled ‘craic’, this is arguably as good a time and place to see what the fuss is about. 
 
Date: 17 March 
Venue: Citywide 
 
Bloomsday 

Commemorating James Joyce, this annual event combines readings, pub crawls and dramatisations, with many of those involved dressing in period costumes. The name comes from Leopold Bloom, the central character in Ulysses. 
 
Date: 16 June 
Venue: Various
 
Fringe Festival

The Fringe is a 16-day shindig taking in comedy, theatre, music, dance and entertainment. More than 500 events take place in over 40 venues, making it the country’s multi-disciplinary arts festival. 
 
Date: September
Venue: Various
 
Arthur’s Day

Essentially just a neat bit of PR work from the Guinness marketing team, but popular nonetheless. Arthur’s Day started in 2009 to signal the brewery’s 250th anniversary, and is marked by a number of music events and pub-based shenanigans. 
 
Date: Late September
Venue: Various
 
Bram Stoker Festival 

The creator of Count Dracula, Bram Stoker is another of Dublin’s literary greats. A three-day festival celebrating his life and works took place for the first time in 2012, and is scheduled to return in late 2013. Expect a mixture of serious lectures and vampire-related high jinks. 
 
Date: Late October
Venue: Various

Written by World Travel Guide

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